The Charm of Area Rugs

Area rugs provide bursts of color, warmth, and whimsy

By FamilyTime


To make your house welcoming, appealing, and warm, choose the right rugs for your home. As a rule, area rugs provide color and interest and work to bring a room together in ways wall-to-wall carpet may not.

Area rugs may be brightly colored or dark and subdued. They might be large or small, rectangular or oval. Many are what decorators call “Oriental carpets,” which refers to any rug from an Asian country — with the best known being from Iran (which was Persia).

Persian rugs tend to be more expensive than many others, particularly if they are handmade. Also consider Turkish, Tibetan, Afghani, Egyptian, Pakistani, and Chinese rugs. American-made rugs are colorful and lovely, too, although all but the most expensive will be machine loomed.

Consider the Floor

Many decorators recommend beginning with the floor when decorating a room. Build up, they say. This means choosing a rug with colors and patterns you like and then selecting the wall color or wallpaper, the furniture, and the window treatments.

If you are redecorating a room, the biggest concern when buying a new area rug is color. Take a swatch of the dominant color to the rug store and once it’s matched, you are pretty much home free.

You may decide to lay an area rug on top of carpeting. Most people lay area rugs on bare floors, finding they warm up and soften hardwood or tile floors.

Consider the Size of the Rug

When you lay an area rug on a bare floor, be sure to measure the rug so that the floor is exposed equally on all sides. There are exceptions to this, but in any event, try to leave even amount of exposed floor on two opposite ends.

Because rugs always appear smaller in the store, be sure to measure carefully. It’s a good idea to outline the space you want to cover with masking tape, string, or unfolded newspapers. Take the room’s furniture into consideration, as well as window seats, bookcases, and fireplaces.

Smaller rugs can become the focal point for seating areas and other gathering places, such as the space near the piano or breakfast bar.

Rugs for Bedrooms and Dining Rooms

When most of the rug will be covered by a bed or dining table, avoid those with medallions or other significant decorations. On the other hand, a central medallion is a wonderful centerpiece for a living room, hallway, or family room.

Because you want the dining room rug to make a statement, measure it so that it is at least four feet wider and longer than the table.

A bedroom rug does not have to be placed evenly in the room but it should not be completely hidden under the bed. You might consider several rugs in the bedroom, if there is room.

Mix and Match

Don’t be afraid to arrange several smaller rugs in one room, rather than one large one. The colors and patterns will play off each other in ways that will surprise and beguile you. Once you are in the right family of colors, don’t worry too much about “matching.”

Think about the traffic patterns in the areas you decide to lay rugs. Lighter colors do well in rooms where there is normal traffic, while hallways and vestibules and other areas with heavy traffic need darker colors. The dark colors don’t show dirt and wear.

Rug Pads

Always, always lay the rugs over pads. These prolong the life of the rugs, which wear from the bottom up, and also prevent them from slipping.

Regardless of how many area rugs you decide to have in your house, keep them clean with frequent vacuuming and annual professional cleaning.

Once you start decorating with them, you will have a hard time passing by a rug store or clicking off a rug auction on E-bay.